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Maurice "hopeful" Sutter can play Saturday

Canes center Brandon Sutter, who suffered a leg injury Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, has not been ruled out for Saturday'shome game against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Coach Paul Maurice said Sutter would be further evaluated today and said he was "hopeful" would be able to play.

Pothier continues 'new adventure'

WASHINGTON -- For Brian Pothier, the last week has been little more than a blur.

A week ago today, Pothier woke up as a member of the Washington Capitals. By mid-afternoon, the defenseman had been traded to the Hurricanes. A day later, he was wearing No. 5 and in the Canes' lineup against the Ottawa Senators at the RBC Center, then flying off to play the Florida Panthers and Atlanta Thrashers.

Tonight, it comes back full swing, so to speak. He'll be back on the Verizon Center ice with the Caps, but looking to beat the Caps.

"You're on a team, you're in a community, your kids are in school, you have a house, everything is normal," Pothier said after today's morning skate at the Verizon Center. "Then, in 10 seconds, you get the news you're not going to be there anymore."

Legace enjoys 'chirping' and having fun

Manny Legace is always the life of the party. Or, at least, the life of practice.

The Canes' goaltender is always "chirping," as he puts it, with the forwards when they try to score on him. It's good-natured stuff and keeps things loose, Legace said, but also is done with a purpose.

"Guys can go through the motions at practice and it's a long year," Legace said Tuesday. "The more they get mad at me, the more they want to score. The more I challenge them, the more it keeps me interested."

Legace in net for Caps, then Peters for Pens

The next two games could be telling for the Canes — the Washington Capitals tomorrow, then the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. They're games the Canes need to win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, but they're back-to-back and offer any number of challenges.

Canes coach Paul Maurice said Manny Legace would start against the Caps, then Justin Peters against the Pens. Both have played well in Cam Ward's absence but will be facing two of the best — and most high-powered -- teams in the league.

Ward is expected to begin skating again this week. Maurice said today that Ward possibly would return to the ice for the first time Thursday.

Same goal but different look for Canes

ATLANTA -- The Canes still believe they can make it happen. But do they have enough to make it happen?

A year ago, the Canes surged into the playoffs with Cam Ward in goal and at his best. The defensemen were Tim Gleason and Joe Corvo, Joni Pitkanen and Dennis Seidenberg, Niclas Wallin and either Anton Babchuk or Frantisek Kaberle.

In the last 18 games this season, with no room for error if they want to reach the playoffs, the Canes have Manny Legace and Justin Peters -- who both started the season in the AHL -- splitting the goaltending. On the back end are Gleason and Brian Pothier, Pitkanen and Alex Picard, and Brett Carson and Jay Harrison.

On depending on Legace and Peters, Canes coach Paul Maurice said, "We can only go on the facts and the facts say their play in the last month and a half has been good enough. It just has."

Canes look to buck home-ice trend

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Teams talk about home-ice advantage and it's certainly been true when the Canes and Panthers have played this season.

The Canes blasted the Panthers 7-2 at the RBC Center in the fourth game of the season and have not scored seven goals in a game since. Carolina also won 3-2 at the RBC Center on Dec. 19 and 4-1 at home on Feb. 9.

As for the Panthers, they topped the Canes 3-0 on Nov. 4 at the BankAtlantic Center, then rolled 6-3 on Dec. 18.

 

"The games haven't even been close," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said after today's morning skate. "We've been dominated in Carolina and we won the game here."

 

Canes a hard team to read at skate

TORONTO — Canes coach Paul Maurice said not to read much into his team's lines today during the morning skate at Air Canada Centre, but it was hard not to.

There was Ray Whitney, the source of so much trade speculation, on a line with Rod Brind'Amour and Pat Dwyer. There was Eric Staal centering Scott Walker and Chad LaRose. Jussi Jokinen also was back at center, with Erik Cole and Sergei Samsonov on the wings, and Brandon Sutter centering Tuomo Ruutu and Tom Kostopoulos.

Whitney, a fourth-liner?

"Well, we let them form their own lines for the morning skate," Maurice said, smiling. "We've got a little more defined lines, but we need to wait to the game before we're fully sure who's in the lineup."

Canes working hard without Olympians

The Canes went through another one-hour practice Thursday at the RecZone.

No Tim Gleason or Eric Staal. No Tuomo Ruutu or Joni Pitkanen. All four are still in Vancouver, still after a gold medal. But the Canes got in some good work all the same, coach Paul Maurice said.

"We've picked two or three things that we think we've done better: our breakouts under pressure and our D-zone coverage," he said. "But our breakouts under pressure have been a big part of it and our offensive zone movement. Our cycle game, our aggressiveness offensively -- those are the two things we can work on with the group we have."

Handicapping Canada-Russia

The Canada-Russia quarterfinal game tonight has been sliced and diced and analyzed in every conceivable way by those in Vancouver.

The Russians have Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. The Canadians, playing on home
soil, have Sidney Crosby and enough talent to match the Russians, and Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks again is coach Mike Babcock's choice in goal.

What about the view from afar? Here's the take of Canes coach Paul Maurice today:

"Canada is under a different, unique kind of pressure, and Russia does seem to play its best when it plays loose. You've got a Canadian goalie who hasn't seen a lot of shots, and now he plays in his hometown in as much of a high-pressure environment as if he was in the final. So this is going to be really exciting."

Picard joins Canes for practice

The Canes took to the ice today for their first practice after the Olympic break, and there was a new face in the crowd.

Defenseman Alex Picard was in the mix, getting his first workout with his new teammates at the RecZone. Picard came to the Canes in the Feb. 12 trade with Ottawa that sent Matt Cullen to the Senators.

"I just got here last night. Obviously it's a little different," Picard said. "Obviously I see it as a good opportunity. I was pretty happy with the trade when I found out.

"I just have to settle in, get to know the guys and get to know the system tomorrow."

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